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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction


The War of the Vampires

Gustave Le Rouge

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To purchase Prisoner of the Vampires of Mars

Title: The War of the Vampires
Author: Gustave Le Rouge
Genre: Novel
Written: 1909 (Eng. 2015)
Length: 202 pages
Original in: French
Availability: in Prisoner of the Vampires of Mars - US
in Prisoner of the Vampires of Mars - UK
in Prisoner of the Vampires of Mars - Canada
in Le prisonnier de la planète Mars - Canada
in Prisoner of the Vampires of Mars - India
in Le prisonnier de la planète Mars - France
  • French title: La guerre des vampires
  • Published together with The Prisoner of the Planet Mars as Prisoner of the Vampires of Mars
  • Translated by David Beus and Brian Evenson
  • With an Introduction by William Ambler
  • Previously published in Brian Evenson's translation in The Vampires of Mars (2008)

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Our Assessment:

B : decent adventure, fine invention

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
TLS . 6/4/2016 Pippa Goldschmidt

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       The War of the Vampires is the direct sequel The Prisoner of the Planet Mars. At the conclusion of the earlier novel, billionairess heiress Miss Alberte Teramond and naturalist Ralph Pitcher had had distant word from adventurer Robert Darvel -- the man who has made it to Mars. Darvel has been sending messages from Mars, but, as a brief 'Translator's Note' explains at the end of the novel, these have stopped, without explanation.
       The War of the Vampires opens in Tunisia, to which Miss Alberte and Pitcher have relocated after their adventures in India. It is here that they continue their attempts to re-connect with Darvel; among the new characters on the scene are Darvel's brother, Georges, as well as Pitcher's blind but intuitive man-for-everything -- "Zarouk, my Negro".
       Le Rouge tries to build suspense by initially keeping the narrative earthbound: true, it's only a third of the way through The Prisoner of the Planet Mars that readers (and Darvel) reach Mars, but given that he had to get there the need for some preparatory matter is understandable; The War of the Vampires takes nearly as long to get to Mars (or at least to get to recounting anything that happened up there), which is rather a long time for an ostensibly Martian tale.
       The early Tunisian scenes are nevertheless reasonably interesting. Among them is an elaborate feast -- 'A Meal Worthy of Lucullus' is the chapter-title -- which gives Le Rouge chance both to show off his talents at setting such a scene (impressive) and then add a scientific twist when one of the guests, Captain Wad, does not indulge. The captain doesn't 'eat' like common humans any longer: he has concocted a pink jelly which he calls vitalose:

a complete food, chemically prepared, containing only the nitrogen and carbon the body requires with none of the useless or harmful materials contained in animal or vegetable substances.
       This also then allows for speculation about human evolution, the captain certain that useless-in-the-future organs like the stomach will simply wither away.
       Blind though Zarouk is, he sees, or senses something very odd -- one of the early indications that all is not right here in this Tunisian hide-out cum research facility. More dramatic then is Mars-traveler Robert Darvel crashing the party, as he returns (with pinpoint aim that even he finds a bit hard to believe). Once he's back in reasonable shape he begins recounting his Martian adventures, which dominates the rest of the novel.
       As noted about The Prisoner of the Planet Mars, despite Darvel being in an alien world, pretty much everything about it was, if not familiar, at least within the realm of the imaginable:
     "Up to that point," continued the engineer, "all that I had seen on Mars had not diverged from what was likely or probable; all the beings that I had encountered had, very nearly, their equivalent on Earth."
       Sure, the Erloor were human-sized vampire creatures of a kind you don't see on earth, but their resemblance to earth-creatures meant that they didn't seem too far-fetched. But, as Darvel explains, he then encountered -- and was captured by -- yet another vampiric species of a rather different order: compared to them: "the Erloor were only inoffensive Chiropterae". And the sory of these creatures doesn't end on Mars .....
       The small scientific community in Tunisia tries to consider things scientifically -- "First there were x-rays, now there are x-beings -- nothing is more logical" -- but the alien species poses quite a challenge -- even, or especially, on the terrestrial home turf, as some have joined Darvel back on Earth.
       The War of the Vampires offers a decent mix of traditional adventure and fanciful invention, even if it is not quite as successful as The Prisoner of the Planet Mars was. On the other hand, that novel ended very abruptly and inconclusively, and The War of the Vampires is a welcome continuation of that story.
       Le Rouge shows a fine hand in both invention and description. If the plotting gets a bit far-fetched -- and it does, as Le Rouge takes too many easy leaps -- much of the casual detail-work is very good. The worlds and species he imagines make for a consistently intriguing tale; it's not first rate, but it is good and often surprising fun.

- M.A.Orthofer, 11 August 2015

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The War of the Vampires: Reviews: Other books by Gustave Le Rouge under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       French author Gustave Le Rouge lived 1867 to 1938.

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© 2015-2016 the complete review

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